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Window of Opportunity | Raw Egg Nationalist

We have become far less healthy, far less happy and far less free than we were before the pandemic.

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A recent study has shown that children who spend a lot of time outdoors in their early years have immune systems that function considerably better than those of children who live in towns and cities.

Researchers at two Irish universities looked at children aged between 15 and 35 months in four different communities in South Africa, and found that early exposure to a variety of microbes, including through handling animals, may be key to training the immune system to recognise threats correctly. They believe this process has life-long effects and is essential to avoiding chronic inflammation in adulthood, which can lead to a host of diseases, from cardiovascular disease to diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome and cancer.

The researchers looked particularly closely at over 130 genes associated with atopic dermatitis, otherwise known as eczema, and found that among the main influences on expression of these genes, and whether or not the condition manifested itself, were time spent outdoors and contact with animals. Children in the two rural groups sampled differed significantly from those in the two urban groups in the way that vital processes involved in immune function, such as signalling between immune cells in the blood, take place.

Professor Liam O’Mahony, lead researcher, explains: “Our study found that many of the important environmental factors were linked with altered exposure to microbes during the first few years of a young child’s life, a crucial stage in shaping a person’s immune system as it is particularly responsive to environmental exposures including infections, nutrition and microbiome.”

“This ‘immunological window of opportunity’ plays a critical role in establishing the limitations and reaction trajectories of our immune system that stay with us for life and influence the risk of immune mediated diseases.”

One clear takeaway from this study is that if you live in an urban environment and have young children, it may be a good idea to take them out into the countryside on a regular basis to make sure their immune systems don’t miss this “window of opportunity” to be calibrated properly. It may also be a good idea to have a pet in the house.

But there’s also a deeper truth at work here, one that we are increasingly close to forgetting totally, with disastrous effects for ourselves, our children and the civilisation of which we are a part. The deeper truth is this: that you don’t actually protect yourself, or others, by shying away from danger. Quite the opposite, in fact.

A girl sitting on a dirt road with a teddy bear

Greyerbaby / Pixabay

Deliberate avoidance of all forms of harm and risk is actually counterproductive, not only because harm and risk have character-building properties, but also because they are part of the very structure of existence. There is no life without them. Full stop. Without adequate exposure to them, like a child’s immune system that has not been properly trained, we malfunction and cause other kinds of harm that could, and should, have been avoided in the first place, and may in fact be much, much worse.

This deep truth is encoded in folk wisdom, proverbs and stories; in the structure and purpose of rites of passage that, until recently, were still an essential part of our lives in the Western world; and in the founding myths of our culture. The personal transformation that was believed to come from undertaking a traditional rite of passage – say, a period spent in a wild place alone with other boys to mark the social transition from boy to man – finds its parallel in Jonah’s descent into the belly of the whale, from which he re-emerges a true prophet ready to preach God’s Word to the people of Nineveh. In both cases, trial and tribulation are essential to producing men who can do what must be done to guide and protect their people.

Everywhere today we see the pernicious effects of “safetyism,” as it’s often dubbed. It’s particularly visible in the universities, where young people whose minds and bodies are ready to be enriched with the unparalleled greatness of our civilisation, are told that certain ideas are so “dangerous” that they can’t even be read or spoken, and that the purpose of a university is to be a glorified comfort blanket where one’s prejudices and preconceptions – or, rather, the prejudices and preconceptions of the dominant leftist worldview – must be reaffirmed, again and again for three or five or seven years. This dereliction of purpose by one of our key institutions has been a disaster for the younger generations and for society as a whole.

The roots of safetyism reach far back into our past, at least as far as the Reformation and Enlightenment, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. According to the philosopher Ivan Illich, it was the secularisation of society that made risk, and especially pain, a serious issue that demanded a technocratic response.

Up until the late Middle Ages, pain had had various meanings in Western culture. The ancient Greeks, for example, believed that contest was central to the full flourishing of individual citizens and the city-states of which they were a part. A man who did not risk failure and the pain it entailed was not really a man at all. In Christian Europe before Martin Luther, pain could serve a variety of purposes, not least of all, as it was for Job in the Bible, as a test of an individual’s faith in God.

We have become far less healthy, far less happy and far less free than we were before the pandemic. I’m not alone in asking how we got to this point, and what we can do to prevent such a situation from ever occurring again.

With the coming of the Reformation and the Enlightenment, pain was stripped of its meaning. Since pain now had no meaning, it was essentially irrational and without purpose, and in a society dedicated to Reason above all else, the only thing to do was to remove pain, wherever it could be found. This, Illich believed, has been responsible for the massive growth of medicine and the power it has come to wield over all of our lives.

The truth of this is clear when we look at events of the last three years. From one view, there can be little doubt that the response to the pandemic was a tremendous overreaction, just like a body whose immune system, after long inaction, begins a cascade of effects that are far more damaging than the initial threat ever was. The policy aim of minimising pain as much as possible – protecting us from the virus – was made to trump all other ethical concerns, with appalling consequences that were made all the worse for being entirely predictable. Not only have we blighted the lives of our younger generations with fear, isolation and obesity, but we have destroyed the businesses of the middle classes and transferred their hard-earned wealth to mega-corporations like Amazon.

We have become far less healthy, far less happy and far less free than we were before the pandemic. I’m not alone in asking how we got to this point, and what we can do to prevent such a situation from ever occurring again.

The only answer, as far as I can see, is to re-train ourselves to recognise the transformative power of risk and exposure to danger. We still have a window of opportunity to do this, but it’s closing fast. We must each of us fit an arrow to our bow and enter the lists anew.

This op-ed features opinion and analysis from Raw Egg Nationalist, the popular health and fitness author recently profiled in the Tucker Carlson Originals documentary, “The End of Men“. His book, The Eggs Benedict Option, is available on his website and from popular book sellers, and his magazine, Man’s World, is available online.

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Raw Egg Nationalist
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Raw Egg Nationalist is the popular fitness and health author profiled in the Tucker Carlson Originals documentary The End of Men. His latest book, "The Eggs Benedict Option", is available now.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    not sure

    September 1, 2023 at 9:44 pm

    i only eat pure gluten and msg.

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